The Brunei Times


      By Quratul-Ain Bandial




        ’s representative to


      ’s human rights body has called on the


      10-member bloc to establish a regional human rights court within the next


      ten years.



      Rafendi Djamin, who sits on the Asean Intergovernmental Commission on Human


      Rights (AICHR), said it is the next step in developing Asean’s rights





      “The current terms of reference for AICHR lacks the mandate to investigate


human rights abuses

      ,“ he said.



      “There are many elements to promote human rights but not enough to protect


      or investigate them.”



      AICHR was set up in 2009 as a consultative body to promote regional


        cooperation on human rights but


      have characterised the body as


      toothless and lacking the authority to investigate or prosecute human


      rights offenders.



      Rafendi said Asean’s court should have similar standards to tribunals set


        up in




      to prosecute genocide and other gross human rights


      violations. Once legal avenues had been exhausted at the national level,


      cases could be submitted to the regional court.



      “When Asean in the future agrees to have a court there will be a rule of


      exhaustive principles … When national remedies have reached their maximum


      or there is no political will to actually settle for judicial solution…


      then it will go to a regional level.”



      The veteran rights activist said the court’s establishment had yet to be


      discussed in AICHR because before the court could be set up, the body must


      formulate more legally-binding mechanisms such as a human rights convention.



        Although Asean leaders signed the

Asean Human Rights Declaration

      in 2012,


      it is only a political commitment to common values, not a legally binding


      document to respect rights like a convention, said Rafendi.



      “Regarding the convention, the discussion is still very broad… it has to


      be discussed with all stakeholders, including NGOs.”



        He added that next year, under


      ’s chairmanship of Asean, there would


      be a review of AICHR’s terms of reference, which would hopefully be amended


        to include more protection elements
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